Jackie Mason, who was renowned for lending his voice to the character Rabbi Hyman Krustofski for the show The Simpsons, died on Saturday at Mount Sinai Hospital in Manhattan. He was 93.
The death was confirmed by Mason’s friend, lawyer Raoul Felder, as per The Hollywood Reporter. Mason and Felder have co-authored reports and books including ‘The Jackie Mason, Raoul Felder Survival Guide to New York’, that released in 1997, and ‘Schmucks!: Our Favorite Fakes, Frauds, Lowlifes, Liars’.
The two-time Emmy Award winning comedian hailed from a family of rabbis and was ordained as one at the age of 25. Born to Jewish parents in 1928, Mason began his tryst with comedy by cracking jokes at the synagogue, and quit his job three years later, as, “Somebody in the family had to make a living”, according to his website.
Mason debuted as a stand-up comedian at The Ed Sullivan Show “only to fall into Sullivan’s disfavor over the interpretation of a now legendary hand gesture during a live performance in 1962, an incident which cast a shadow over Mason’s career for more than a decade”, as per his website. While Sullivan fired Mason from the show, the Tony Award winning performer filed a libel suit on the grounds that Sullivan had defamed him.
Moreover, because of Sullivan’s towering hold in the industry, Mason was unable to get substantial work in the television and film industry for two decades. Sullivan later invited him back and apologized himself.
He went on to feature on the Broadway show The World According to Me for two-and-a-half years, and began in 1986. The show earned Jackie Mason a Tony Award, an Outer Critics Circle Award, an Ace Award, an
Emmy Award, and a Grammy nomination, and it toured successfully in America and Europe.
Mason returned to Broadway in 1990 with Jackie Mason: Brand New; in 1994 with Jackie Mason: Politically Incorrect; in 1996 with Love Thy Neighbor; in 1999 with Much Ado about Everything; in 2002 with Prune Danish; in 2005 with Freshly Squeezed; and in 2008 with The Ultimate Jew. His last show Fearless played for sell out crowds at the Wyndhams’s Theatre in London’s West End.
Mason also featured in films like Caddyshack II (1988), The Jerk (1979), and History of the World: Part I (1981).
Several members from the industry paid him tribute online.
Actor Henry Winkler tweeted, “Truly one of the funniest shows I have ever seen .. ever .. thank you Jackie and now you get to make heaven laugh.”
American actor and comedian Jason Alexander wrote, “I took my folks to see Jackie Mason on Broadway twice. I have never seen them laugh harder. A comic from a different time but one of the best. Mister. I’m takin’ to you.”
Television host Rita Cosby wrote, “Prayers and forever love for my dear friend #JackieMason. When we were together just a few weeks ago, he was as hilarious, irreverent and brilliant as ever! Truly one of a kind… who will be deeply missed. Love You So Jackie.”
Mason is survived by his wife and manager Jyll Rosenfeld and daughter Sheba Mason.